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Curious Festival – Vogue Ball

So, I got myself all dressed up in my glittery Westwood dress overlaid with a transparent chiffon maxi skirt and made my way through town to Bamburgh House for the Curious Festival‘s Vogue Ball. Unfortunately I missed out on the Voguing lessons (which sounded amazing) but I couldn’t wait to see professional Voguers in action, eclectic live music, out-there costumes and some serious glam guaranteed with many of Newcastle’s drag queens and creative community in attendance.

I wish I could have got to more of the Festival events over the week, but the weekend more than made up for it. The programme was jam-packed with a diverse range of art, theatre, talks, workshops and socials exploring and celebrating LGBTQ culture through the arts, over the course of five days.

Our host Mutha Tucka and Grace Oni Smith 

I was instantly taken with our host for the evening, Mutha Tucka and had major fashion envy regarding her cape and perspex statement necklace. She treads a fine line between hilarious and caustic, like all of the best hosts. I grabbed a drink whilst garage rock band punk transgressors Women In Revolt got ready to play – probably the most diverse band I’ve seen for a long time (featuring three drag queens and two drag kings), and the first time I’d seen a drummer in just their underwear.  Band members include Sheena Revolta (lead singer), Mitch Mitchellson (drums) and Sadie Retox (bass).  They sang about topics as varied as roller girls and Pippa Middleton, and I loved the fact that they had a go-go dancer, the lovely Annabella Marczewska (I haven’t seen that very often either).

Women In Revolt 

Suitably warmed-up, Mutha Tucka introduced the professional dancers. I was truly blown away, along with everyone else in the audience, by the pro Voguers and instantly felt like I’d been transported back to the 80s in some New York club. We were treated to performances by Grace Oni Smith, a Manchester based performer and make-up artist. Voguing isn’t just about the moves, fashion and style also plays a massive part (and these dancers looked SHARP).  It takes inspiration from Egyptian hieroglyphs (according to Wikipedia) and model poses from Vogue magazine, and was popularised by Harlem queens who used the movements to throw shade at the other queens.

Learn from the pros – Grace Oni Smith, Patrick Ziza and Lerato Mncube, Joshua Hubbard and Anna Engerstrom, Darren Pritchard

Anna Engerstrom, Joshua Hubbard and Grace Oni Smith

Then came the Vogue Ball walkers. Fierce and exceptionally styled attendees took to the stage in a variety of different categories – Iconic Queer/Pop, Toon Vogue, Hair From Here To The Wear (!), The Gender Agenda and Fashion Forward. The sheer creative talent on show was astounding, I was totally inspired to be bolder with my fashion choices and make-up in future. It was a fashion kaleidoscope of custom-made dresses, the highest heels I’ve probably ever seen, Kardashian realness, plastics, graffiti and alien chic.

Category is…Entrants in the Fashion Forward category with judges David Hoyle and Grace Oni Smith 
Entrants in the Gender Agenda category (with winner Ill-Health bottom right)
I loved the other categories, which included drag lumberjacks, a neon-multicoloured gown complete with a hat made out of scary dolls and polystyrene takeaway boxes, bicycle clips and a tongue-in-cheek plea to end it all. Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around for too long for the POKE after-party downstairs at Kommunity, where DJ Ian Harrington kept the iconic tunes coming, but I think it’ll become my new favourite club night. I left feeling truly inspired by the talent and creativity of the Newcastle drag community and its supporters, and excited about what Curious Festival has to offer next year. I also found out about Baltic Live is Curious which took place the following night, which rounded off the Festival in style. 
The POKE after-party ((Bottom – Joshua Hubbard (left) and David Hoyle (right))
*All images by Michael McGuire 
*I received a free ticket to the event in exchange for a review. 


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